Back to school shopping — especially when you have more than one child — can be costly.   Picture: Liam Kidston.
Back to school shopping — especially when you have more than one child — can be costly. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Five tips to save on school shopping

HEADING back to school can cost a fortune, especially if you have more than one child.

Most families are already stretched to their financial limit after Christmas and the back to school shopping can really break the bank. With your purse strings in mind, we look at the best back to school savings and ways to save money where you can.

Here are five ways to save money when heading back to school.

The costs of heading back to school can stretch the family budget.
The costs of heading back to school can stretch the family budget.

Step 1 - Sort what can be used from last year

 

You would be surprised what can be saved from last year. Here is a list of things that can be reusable:

Uniforms - Check the hems of any skirts or dresses and see if they can be let down. Most of them have a very generous hem, for this reason, so don't get rid of them too quickly. If they are definitely too small can they be put away for another child? Even if it's a few years away, hang on to the uniforms because you'll need them eventually!

Shoes - Check if their shoes still fit. Chances are (especially with teenagers) you might get another year out of them. Even if you are only going to get another term, keep them and defer the cost of one of the most expensive back to school items. If they are still in good condition can you pass them on to a younger child?

Stationery - Before you go out and buy everything again, make sure you do a stationery inventory of all the pencil cases. Save all working markers, highlighters and pens, sharpen blunt pencils and set aside rulers, rubbers and sharpeners that can still be used. Chances are there are a lot of things still usable from last year. Also, check with the school for their stationery list so you don't buy unnecessary products.

Textbooks - If you have high school aged kids then textbooks prices are a killer! Double check if any books are for two years rather than one. Many are for the stage rather than the year, so year 7 and 8, year 9 and 10, and year 11 and 12. Don't accidentally double purchase (I've been guilty of this!)

St Stephen's Catholic College student Marco Cappella shopping for books and stationary at Officeworks with his mother Megan Cappella. Picture: Marc McCormack
St Stephen's Catholic College student Marco Cappella shopping for books and stationary at Officeworks with his mother Megan Cappella. Picture: Marc McCormack

 

Step 2 - Shop second-hand

 

There is nothing wrong with second-hand so make sure you buy used when you can.

Uniform stores - They will always have a second-hand section so make sure you ask before you buy full price. It's usually a saving of at least 50%.

Facebook groups - There will most likely be a local uniform buy/swap/sell Facebook group for your area where people post their second-hand uniforms for sale. Make sure you look at these too.

Friends - If you have friends whose children attend the same school a few grades up ask them if they are selling any uniforms or textbooks before you go shopping.

Sustainable School Shop - The Sustainable School Shop is amazing. It's where I buy all my teenagers' textbooks. For a $20 a year membership you can list books and shop for them. They also have a uniform section that's worth checking out. www.sustainableschoolshop.com.au

Melita Slattery and her daughter Summer do their back to school shopping. Picture: Darren England.
Melita Slattery and her daughter Summer do their back to school shopping. Picture: Darren England.

Step 3 - Shop the sales

 

Ways to save money include shopping around for the best deals when you are back to school shopping. Many shoe shops offer deals such as 'buy one pair, get 5 per cent off the second' when it comes to school shoes. for those of you shopping for more than one child these are well worth seeking out. If you only have one child, buddy up with a friend and split the savings - you'll both get shoes for 75 per cent of the original price.

If you need labels for school most label companies will have a back to school bundle so make sure you shop smart and do your research to see who is offering the best deals. While it's not super cheap, I've shopped at Stamptastic for a reusable stamp so I don't have to buy multiple labels. If you have several children you can just get your last name and phone number on the stamp so you can use it for all the kids. This would save a massive amount. An added bonus is that you won't need to sew any name tags so worth every cent! www.stamptastic.co.uk

Choose wisely when it comes to stationery. Picture: Stephen Cooper
Choose wisely when it comes to stationery. Picture: Stephen Cooper

Step 4 - Know when to spend and when to save

 

Things to spend on:

 

Shoes - school shoes are pricey for a reason. Your child will spend more time in these than any other shoe and poor quality shoes can cause big foot problems later on. So, while those $20 Aldi or Kmart shoes might look tempting, you need to pay the money for the quality and the professional fitting. Sorry! (in saying that, if you get to term 4 and your child has grown out of their shoes, buy the cheap pair to finish the year out and start fresh in January the following year).

Equipment/stationery - there are some things you can't buy the home brand version on- and one of these is glue! it's UHU or nothing! The rest doesn't even stick and your teacher will not be in a forgiving mood! Also, get decent colouring pencils and pens.

 

Things to save on:

 

Uniform - If you can find parts of your uniform at places like Big W, Target or Kmart then buy them from there instead of your uniform shop. Often you can find the coloured polo shirts, netball skirts, grey shorts, white or blue school shirts etc at these shops in January and you'll save a fortune. Just check first if you school one has a logo or not. www.next.com.au also has a good school's basics range from a great price.

Stationery and books - If you need writing books, paper, pens etc then don't go spending a fortune. Kmart has a fantastic (and super cheap) range of back to school items. After all, a ruler is a ruler!

It’s important to stick to a budget. Picture: Bianca De Marchi
It’s important to stick to a budget. Picture: Bianca De Marchi

 

Step 5 - Buy what they need, not what they want

 

Kids can get carried away when you take them back to school shopping. They will see every shiny, fluffy, sparkly thing you walk past and they will "neeeeeddd" it. This especially happens when they are a little older and there is a trend. These little things all add up so come up with a compromise with them. They can't do their whole shopping at Smiggle but they can choose their pencil case or some markers. Find out the one thing they really want and agree to it, but the rest is budget products only. They may not be pretty but they do the job!

Hopefully, these tips have given you some ways to save money this January! Make sure you let me know of any great sales or bargains you encounter too!

This article originally appeared on Stuff Mums Like and has been republished here with permission. Maraya, editor of Stuff Mums Like, has been doing this parenting thing for half her life now. She spends her time delegating to teenagers, playing princesses with her five- year-old and hiding in the car pretending to work just for some time out. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

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